Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
In the move to put forward their best hands ahead of the governorship contest in Edo State next year, the Esan ethnic nationality, located in the Central Senatorial district, have listed criteria that aspirants from the zone must meet to enjoy overwhelming support.
This, they argue is to ensure that only viable and capable aspirants who will equally elicit support of the Northern and Southern Senatorial zones of the state, would be endorsed to contest for the number one seat of Edo State as Governor Godwin Obaseki’s eight year term winds down in November 2024.
The two-hour meeting presided over by President, Esan Okpa Initiative (EOI), Rt. Hon Mathew Egbadon, also disclosed plans to engage other senatorial zones with the hope of getting them to concede the governorship ticket to persons of Esan extraction on the basis of justice, equity and fairness.
Stressing the altruistic nature of the group’s intervention, Egbadon, a former two-time speaker of the state Assembly quipped, “we are non-partisan, we are only interested in putting forward our best hands”, pleading that unserious aspirants who have joined the hordes of contenders for the governorship ticket to quit the race.
He argued that while Edo Central’s reign under Prof Oserheimen Osunbor was cut short after 18 months in office, Edo South with Chief Lucky Igbinedion and Mr. Godwin Obaseki would be completing 16 years in the governorship saddle by November 11, 2023 and Edo North has also had two terms of 8 years under Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
Rising from the meeting of the meeting, held on Saturday, under the auspices of the Esan Okpa Initiative (EOI), which was attended by some prominent Esan groups in the country and the Diaspora, the group also endorsed the criteria presented by a six-man sub-committee headed by a Constitutional Law Scholar, Prof Mike Ikhariale, which makes the possession of a bachelor’s degree, as opposed to the constitutional provision of a secondary school certificate, as the minimum for persons of Esan extraction contesting for any political offices.
Other members of the sub-committee earlier set up by EOI’s Political and Strategic Committee comprised of Prof. Friday Okonofua, Prof. Ekeikhomen Ejele, Prof. Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, Dr. Roseline Etiti Okosun and Dr. Onoohomen Ebhohimhen.
In a press statement by EOI’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tony Iyare, the criteria cover critical areas like education, social and political exposures, personal gravitas, and emphasised that aspirants must be imbued with “a strong association with Esanland through past and current activities in ways that are demonstrably focused on the promotion of the wellbeing of Esan people.”
According to the statement, “individuals must have a positive image and untarnished reputation that openly speak for themselves, and such perception must have received the general acknowledgement of the people”.
The statement added that the criteria are divided into three broad categories – Mandatory Requirements, Esan-centric Requirements and The People’s Specific Demands.
“Under the mandatory requirements, the individual must meet the eligibility requirements that are clearly set out in the Constitution of Nigeria for elective political offices as well as those that are specifically drawn up by EOI exclusively for Esan politicians.
“Esan centric requirements, include:
(a) the individual must be a strong believer in Esan values as amply evidenced by an unbroken track-record of enthusiastic association with Esan issues, Esan concerns and Esan cultural challenges and those matters pertaining to the general development of the Esan nation.
(b) must be evidently enthusiastic about Esan matters and actively makes his contributions whenever called upon.
(c) Generous contribution to Esan development, be it materially, physically or intellectually.
(d) A proud communicator in Esan language with demonstrable understanding, or possesses a verifiable evidence of genuine willingness to acquire the requisite proficiency in the language,” the group declared
High point of the criteria listed is that the aspirants must possess a minimum of a university degree (excluding honorary degrees) or equivalent tertiary qualifications from a recognised institution(s).
The criteria laid out also include Integrity and Moral Uprightness, Health Status, Viability of Political Platforms, Political Visibility and Electoral Viability, Resource and Material Capacity and Urbanness and Gravitas.